Author and journalist Katy Regan, 49, from Lancashire, describes how Victoria Adams, her teenage friend at Laine Theatre Arts college in Surrey, compares to Victoria Beckham, the megastar we know now.
There’s a point in episode one of the new Netflix documentary series, Beckham, where David himself recalls seeing Victoria, aka Posh Spice, for the first time, performing with the Spice Girls on TV, and saying, “That one. I’m going to marry that one.”
I had a similar moment. I mean, not the marrying bit, obviously. But in 1994, when I was 20 and at university, I remember seeing this new girl band on TV, jumping up, pointing at the one with the dark bob and the black dress and shouting to my flatmate, “Omigod! That one! I know that one!”
You see, my major claim to fame is that I went to college with Victoria Beckham. Yep, when we were both 16 (we shall both be 50 next April) – Posh Spice and I were friends.
I can remember in fact, the very first time I became aware of Victoria Adams – or ‘Vicks’ as she was known then.
At college Vicks was incredibly sweet-natured and smiley (yes, really!) and prone to fits of the giggles
It was autumn 1990 and we’d both just started on the three-year Musical Theatre course at Laine Theatre Arts college in Epsom, Surrey. I was young, a long way from home for the first time in my life, and to be honest, feeling pretty inadequate among these over-confident, jazz-hands types.
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Then one day, in another gruelling ballet class, this pretty, olive-skinned girl with teenage spots and highlighted hair pulled back in a messy bun; a girl I knew as Victoria Adams, started crying.
She’d been told off about something. Perhaps it was her technique that wasn’t up to scratch, or maybe her weight – she was a healthy size 10, and had a gorgeous figure, but sadly that was considered hefty in the dance world and our weight was often commented on – I can’t remember.
However, whatever it was had clearly hit a nerve and she cried throughout the whole lesson. She was then held back by the teacher after class, probably told to ‘toughen up’ if she wanted to make it in showbiz.
Far from being ‘up herself’, Vicks was humble, a people-pleaser, who wanted nothing more than to push herself and work hard
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Recognising a kindred sensitive spirit, who was struggling, like me, in this highly competitive environment, I comforted her in the changing room afterwards, empathising with how hard it was.
Victoria was grateful and that’s how we got chatting. It would be a stretch to say we were great friends, but I was one of the group she hung out with, and we’d go out for lunch together (largely McDonalds) and have a laugh in the changing room, commiserate when a lesson had been horrible.
She was a homely Hertfordshire girl, who spoke a lot about her friends and family
I remember being impressed that after that particular ballet class, she didn’t mope and go to McDonalds (which is what I’d have probably done) she went to the next available ballet class, extra to her timetable, and many more extra lessons after that.
This summed her up. She was not the most talented person on the course – or the least by the way, she was an excellent dancer in particular – but boy, did she work hard.
Read more: Victoria Beckham says David was ‘clinically depressed’ after red card backlash (Yahoo Life - 5-min read)
There’s another clip in the Beckham documentary where Victoria describes how her parents instilled a hard-work ethic in her from a young age and I absolutely saw that.
Far from being ‘up herself’, she was humble, a people-pleaser, who wanted nothing more than to push herself and work hard to become better. If she didn’t have star quality talent, she certainly had star quality drive.
She was also a homely Hertfordshire girl at heart, who spoke a lot about her friends and family, who clearly meant the world to her. She was in a serious relationship with a boyfriend back home – just like me – and we bonded over how much we missed them and when the next time we’d see them was. I remember her being excited for me when my boyfriend was visiting, all the way from ‘up north!’
She was also incredibly sweet-natured and smiley (yes, really!) and prone to fits of the giggles. Whereas she was very much a straightforward, conscientious girl, I was more of a natural rebel, and she used to say: “Oh Kate, you’re mental. You’re so funny! You really make me laugh!” She particularly enjoyed my impressions of people – always a penchant of mine – and would crack up at them in the changing rooms.
I only stayed one year of that three-year course in the end, quickly realising showbiz wasn’t for me after all, and that I was far more suited to the regular academic route of sixth form, uni and eventually becoming a writer.
Read more: David Beckham was ‘like an addict’ during early romance with wife Victoria, Netflix documentary reveals (Yahoo Entertainment, 5-min read)
Victoria carried on though, became Posh Spice, Mrs Victoria Beckham, and the rest, as we know, is history. When she first became famous and people would say she was stuck up and never smiled, I used to get defensive.
“She wasn’t like that actually,” I’d say. “She’s just a really normal, friendly girl.”
It didn’t surprise me she hit the big time. She always had that X-Factor, that hunger for fame, for being the best she could be.
Occasionally I wonder, since our lives took erm… slightly different directions… if she met me again, would she remember me?
I like to fantasise that if she is – as I suspect – the same Vicks underneath the Rolex watches, international fashion label and small matter of being one half of the most famous couple in the world, that it might take her a second but eventually she’d say: “Course I remember you, Kate! You were mental! You always made me laugh.”